The New Leadership Paradigm

To survive and prosper in the twenty-first century, we need to develop a new leadership paradigm, one that embraces the global common good rather than individual self-interest. 

The new leadership paradigm calls for vision-guided, values-driven leaders that look after the well-being of all stakeholders.

The following words by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, professor at Harvard Business School, closely describe what the new paradigm leader will look like.

In the face of turbulence and change, culture and values become the major source of continuity and coherence, of renewal and sustainability. Leaders must be institution-builders who imbue the organisation with meaning that inspires today and endures tomorrow. They must find an underlying purpose and a strong set of values that serve as a basis for longer-term decisions even in the midst of volatility. They must find the common purpose and universal values that unite highly diverse people while still permitting individual identities to be expressed and enhanced. Indeed, emphasising purpose and values helps leaders support and facilitate self-organising networks that can respond quickly to change because they share an understanding of the right thing to do.

As cosmopolitan boundary-crossers who see beyond their industry, sector, or home country, leaders must find opportunities for societal problem-solving to create innovations that build the future. They must seek partnerships that help them accomplish missions impossible for one organisation to handle alone. They must understand the broader context in which they operate while also having the vision to change it. Their business savvy is still important, but by adding societal values to financial valuations they create a meaningful human institution out of a bundle of impersonal assets.

It is time that our leaders recognised that business is a wholly owned subsidiary of society, and society is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment (the planet Earth). If we lose our environment and our life support systems, our society will perish. If we lose our society, we will lose our economy.

Our leaders must stop seeking to be the best in the world, and start seeking to be the best for the world.

Political leaders can also embrace the new leadership paradigm. They must give up their parochial self-interest and their exaggerated false belief in national sovereignty. The problems of existence have become global. The only way we can solve these problems is through international cooperation and collaboration.

What is being called forth in business and politics is a global paradigm shift—a shift from a world focused on self-interest, to a world focused on the common good—a shift from what’s in it for me, to what’s best for everyone.


Excerpt from The New Leadership Paradigm by Richard Barrett